Tips for winter Vanlife travel in the Arctic

After spending last winter in Northern Norway, man did we learn a lot of things about the extreme conditions that being high above the arctic circle brings! Coming into our second winter of vanlife in the arctic, we feel so much more prepared! I thought I’d share some helpful tips with you fellow travellers, it’s always nice to have a heads up when coming into such an extreme climate!

So here is my list of helpful tips;

1. Always check the weather and road conditions

Norways weather can change at the drop of a hat! All seasons can come in one day and take you by a real surprise if you aren’t careful. Using the weather app YR is an absolute must and will save you the stress of getting caught off guard and unprepared. Roads in Norway also close often during the winter months so using the traffic link will save you spending time roadside waiting for a storm to pass and a road to open! We learnt this the hard way and spent 3 days camped out at a truck stop last winter on our way north!

2. Always have spare water! 

Many taps in Norway tend to be frozen during wintertime, making life tough if you are out of water or running extremely low. You end up wasting time and energy driving around like a crazy person on the hunt for some h20! Mornings can get very scary when coffee hasn’t been had first thing! (haha)

3. Have appropriate clothing and footwear

What I mean by this is, dress for the location. Northern Norway’s climate is extreme, strong winds are the norm on top of freezing temperatures. It is not your average alpine climate. We’ve now spent almost two winters in the Austrian alps and compared to Norway the winters are mild. We managed to get through winters in hiking boots and timberlands but here in Norway they are not enough, especially if you are hoping to spend nights out searching for the northern lights or doing some of the epic winter activities that are on offer. Here in Norway, you need the heavy duty stuff! It’s definitely worth the splash to not spend the whole winter freezing and numb. Make sure you have some extra thick and warm gloves, insulated shoes, 100% merino wool socks, thermals, a lined beanie, down jackets and a big warm coat. You can thank me later for that hot tip! The Norwegian saying is, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just a poor choice of clothing’ and it really is the case here!

4. Floor rugs

If you are like us and didn’t build your van specifically for Norwegian winter conditions, meaning you don’t have underfloor heating, here’s a little insight, the floor gets very cold. During our first winter in Norway, we only had a small rug and soon realised just how much cold air was coming from the floor. This winter we have added a full-length rug/mat and it has made the world of difference. Definitely a cheap addition to your van that you won’t regret!

5. An electric heater

Having a backup heater comes in very handy during winter. In winter, when we aren’t travelling full-time, we usually park up at a campsite. Having an electric heater to use when we are plugged in is so helpful, especially if electricity is included in their fees! Diesel is pretty expensive in Norway, and in Europe in general, so when we don’t have to crank our diesel heater on full pelt it really saves us some serious cash overtime. A cheap but reliable little heater is all you need. I think ours costs around 20 euros! It won’t take up much room and will be extremely helpful for warmth and to save you some pennies, if you choose to park up at a campsite!

I hope these tips are useful for your trip to the Arctic! 

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